Design and Politics: the next phase
5 - 75-90-3: Who is Our City?

Friday, 25 November 2011

Fith event in a series of seven thematic debates taking place in 2011 / 2012. 'Design and Politics: the next phase' was initiated by ANCB The Metropolitan Laboratory in collaboration with Henk Ovink, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. For the first time in mankind's history more people live in city areas than in rural areas. Soon 75% of the world's population will earn 90% of the world's GDP on only 3% of the world's surface. What are the potentials of increasing urbanisation for the collective as well as the individual in this 'stacked' and mixed city and what are their implications for politics, urban planning and design. How do we make this complex of flocking people, this clashing of cultures and ambitions 'our city'?

Part I: Introduction

Part II: Statements and Discussion

Part I
Welcome and Introduction
Áine Ryan
, Programme Manager, ANCB - 00:00 - 06:25
Mekonnen Mesghena, Head of Migration and Diversity Department, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Berlin - 06:26 - 09:14
Henk Ovink, Director for National Spatial Planning at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment - 09:16 - 26:01

Part II
Barbara John
, Political Scientist; Professor of Ethnology, Humboldt University Berlin; Former Commissioner of Integration and Migration, Berlin Senate - 00:00:00 - 00:08:16
Michael Künzel, Head of Land Use Planning and Urban Concepts Unit, Berlin Senate for Urban Development - 00:08:16 - 00:14:32
Martin-Rein Cano, Founding partner, Topotek 1 Landscape Architecture, Berlin - 00:14:33 - 00:23:35
Olv Klijn, Founding partner, FABRIC Architecture and Urbanism, Amsterdam - 00:23:35 - 00:32:06
Ratna Omidvar, President Maytree Foundation, Toronto - 00:32:07 - 00:42:30

Podium Discussion
moderated by Henk Ovink, Director for National Spatial Planning at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment - 00:42:30 - 01:44:46

Henk Ovink began the debate with statistics: 75% of the global population now generates 90% of global productivity on 3% of inhabitable land area. He suggested that this represents spatio-economic efficiency but also a promising socio-cultural model encouraging diversity through proximity. He then posed a series of provocative questions: How can we overcome conflict between personal interests and collective values? Where are these tensions played out in the city? How can we ensure the emergence of our city rather than my city?

Podium presentations then raised a number of issues, such as the suggestion that ‘cities must bridge exclusion and help migrants become full stakeholders’ [Mekonnen Mesghena]; ‘the majority will dictate until politics recognises that the minority will become the majority’ [Barbara John]; ‘the network city has led to evenly-distributed diversity versus trade-specific historical congregations’ [Michael Künzel]; ‘culture-specific seduction is required to enact good design’ [Martin Rein-Cano]; the need to ‘connect a top-down agenda with bottom-up desires’ [Olv Klijn]; and the fact that ‘while inclusion is inevitable, it must in every case happen faster’ [Ratna Omidvar].

At the beginning of the discussion it was agreed that language is critical if we are to move beyond ‘assimilation’ and to constructively address ‘inclusion’ and ‘access to opportunity’. And it was also agreed that the diversity of migrant experience – from the poor and undocumented to the wealthy and highly-educated – must be acknowledged.

Regarding the need for rules and regulations, it was agreed that these must be balanced against the un-planned if the city is to function efficiently and remain a place of diversity and creative energy. In this context, there was discussion of ‘wiki-design’ and the flexible masterplan as pathways towards responsive planning instruments balancing expert opinion against public desires. Discussion of the specific role of design prompted the view that while a mix of forms and uses in the city can’t guarantee social diversity, physical heterogeneity can perhaps best accommodate difference.

In terms of politics, it was suggested that a disconnect exists between diversity policy at the national level and the fact that cities most often must address its consequences. And it was agreed that specific city making actions integrating design and politics must involve clear guiding intentions, a responsive plan, effective instruments for implementation and strategic investment to make things happen.

Summary by Matthew Beattie for ANCB The Metropolitan Laboratory

We would like to thank the following institutions and enterprises for their generous support:
Netherlands Ministry for Infrastructure and Environment
Netherlands Architecture Fund
Dutch Embassy in Berlin
Heinrich-Böll Stiftung
Pfefferberg - Haus 13
Kling und Freitag
Friedrich Naumann Stiftung

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